In past noteworthy public comments on cryptocurrency, Goldman Sachs’ then-CFO Marty Chavez used the infamous phrase “fake news” to describe media reports that suggested the bank was abandoning plans to launch a crypto trading desk (i.e., Bitcoin and other crypto-specie).
Fast-forward one year, and Chavez, now Goldman’s current co-head of securities, has offered up an interesting take on a potential obstacle facing Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
In typical style, Chavez leveraged a personal anecdote to help illustrate his point. Speaking on a podcast from crypto-focused outlet The Block, Chavez recalled being asked by an old friend at a venture capital firm to speak to a few CEOs of Bitcoin-related startups. During one of the talks, Chavez threw out a prediction that he didn’t feel was all that revolutionary, and one he appears to still back today. Chavez told the CEO he was “highly confident” that the Federal Reserve will one day digitize the U.S. dollar, a move that could tip the crypto coin market on its head. The probability of a Federal Reserve-issued cryptocurrency “seemed self-evident,” he said.
In other words, the Federal Reserve, a 105-year-old nonprofit, founded in the same year that the Ford Motor Company introduced the assembly line, could end up totally disrupting the market for crypto-currency (and Bitcoin). Not bad for an institution more than a century old.
Chavez wasn’t particularly won over by the response of the unnamed Bitcoin-startup CEO, who argued with “equal certainty” that it will never happen. “I asked him why… and he said because no engineer who’s any good will ever help the Federal Reserve do that,” Chavez recalled, later saying the rationale didn’t “make a lot of sense to me.”
Have his views changed over the last few years? “I don’t know what the Federal Reserve is going to do, but I look at the recent announcements and I think it’s all consistent with [my earlier] statement,” he told The Block. And why, exactly, should the Fed play a role? The core principle is protecting nationally-recognized legal tender. (Basically, no government wants a viable currency to compete with its own, especially one like Bitcoin that might actually have legs.)
In addition to Bitcoin chatter, the Goldman executive dropped a few other interesting nuggets during the 45-minute talk, including his hatred of the word “strat” and an oral history of the short-lived title “strader.” The longtime Goldman exec said he preferred the highly-creative alternative role “engineers who trade.” Literally.
Chavez also said one of the other CEOs sent him three Bitcoins following the meeting. Chavez still owns them.
This article originally appeared in eFinancialCareers.